Ivanka Trump's company received preliminary approval from the Chinese government for another five trademarks this month, as her father's administration pushes ahead on trade negotiations with China.
Four trademarks, including child care centers, sunglasses and wedding dresses, were approved on Sunday. A fifth, covering brokerage, charitable fundraising and art valuation services, was approved on Jan. 6, according to online trademark office records. The applications were filed in 2016 and 2017. If no one objects, they will be finalized after 90 days.
Ivanka Trump's expanding intellectual property holdings have long raised ethical concerns, particularly because they are happening in China, where the courts and bureaucracy tend to reflect the will of the ruling Communist Party. Even though Ivanka Trump, who serves as a White House adviser,critics say the trademarks could help her revive her business after her father leaves office.
Ivanka Trump's lawyers in China did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Another 34 approvals in October, November
In November, the Chinese government granted ato companies linked to U.S. President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka over the last two months, Chinese public records show, raising concerns about conflicts of interest in the White House as Americans vote in national elections.
In October, China's Trademark Office granted provisional approval for 16 trademarks to Ivanka Trump Marks LLC, bringing to 34 the total number of marks China has greenlighted in the past year, according to the office's online database. The new approvals cover Ivanka-branded fashion gear including sunglasses, handbags, shoes and jewelry, as well as beauty services and voting machines.
A chance to profit later?
Critics say the Trump family's worldwide intellectual property portfolio could set the groundwork for the president and his daughter to profit from their global brands as soon as they leave office.
"Ivanka receives preliminary approval for these new Chinese trademarks while her father continues to wage a trade war with China. Since she has retained her foreign trademarks, the public will continue to have to ask whether President Trump has made foreign policy decisions in the interest of his and his family's businesses," wrote Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government watchdog group that first published the news about Ivanka Trump brand's new Chinese trademarks, last year.
Potential pressure in government negotiations
Critics argue that by asking a foreign government for valuable intellectual property rights, White House officials could open themselves to pressure in government negotiations.
Ivanka Trump's representatives assert trademark filings are a normal business practice and are needed to protect her name from copycats seeking to capitalize on her fame.
Companies apply for trademarks for a range of reasons. They can be signs of corporate ambition, but many also are filed defensively, particularly in China, where trademark squatting is rampant.
China has said it treats all trademark applications equally under the law.